I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight

I'm torn. This morning, three cabinet ministers wrote an article in the Daily Mail which was in total opposition to their own Prime Minister's policy of not contenancing the extension of Article 50. In some ways I'd like to tear the three of them a collective new one, but on the other hand some of what they are saying makes total sense, given it's what I've been saying for weeks.

Julia Hartley-Brewer has reacted to their article by saying...

If you’re a Cabinet minister who doesn’t agree with your own government’s main policy (which was a key manifesto pledge in the last election that you stood on) then you probably shouldn’t be a Cabinet minister in that government any more.

It's yet another example of how collective responsibility has almost completely broken down in this clustershambles of a government. I wrote more widely on that in this article a few days ago. 

i have also written several times in the last six or seven weeks something similar to what Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke are saying. They conclude their article by writing...

Our hope is that Parliament recognises that we should leave the EU on March 29 with a deal. However, if there is no breakthrough in the coming week, the balance of opinion in Parliament is clear – that it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay our date of departure rather than crash out of the European Union on March 29.

It is time that many of our Conservative parliamentary colleagues in the ERG recognised that Parliament will stop a disastrous No Deal Brexit on March 29. If that happens, they will have no one to blame but themselves for delaying Brexit.

Exactly right. Well, the last sentence anyway. It's what I have been saying since Christmas. The ERG haven't yet cottoned on but it is their intransigence which may well see us not leave on 29 March. They still don't get it. They seem to think that it is guaranteed we will leave on 29 March with no deal. It isn't, as Parliament may well demonstrate on Wednesday. 

I still don't like Theresa May's deal. Any concessions which Geoffrey Cox might get on the Irish backstop won't make me like it much more, but my only concern now is that we must leave in some shape or form on the 29th March. Seventy per cent of what we want is better than zero per cent. And before anyone says it. I am fully aware that I can be accused of being a hypocrite given I wrote back in November...

I regard this deal as so damaging to our country both in the short and long term that if I had to make a choice between voting for this deal or remaining in the European Union, I’d do the latter.

That was on 14 November. If I had had a vote as an MP when the Meaningful vote was held in mid January, I too would have been one of the MPs who inflicted a 230 vote defeat on Theresa May. I would have done it to protest and make a statement about what I felt and believed.

I had assumed that the Prime Minister might have used the time between then and now to make clear to the EU exactly what it was that she needed to get this through Parliament. Even now, four days before Parliament has to vote again, she has failed to do that. Rumour is that Geoffrey Cox has found some sort of 'Cox Codpiece' which he can put before the Commons at some point, but probably not on Wednesday. What an abject failure of a negotiation, which has reduced this country to little more than a laughing stock.

I wrote last Monday that there are four Cabinet factions. Well, this morning in the Daily Mail, one of the made their move. I suspect the other three factions will sit on their hands, effectively letting the Remainers do all the running. The so-called 'Leave Ultras' had better think very carefully now about what they do.

What they should do is impress on the Prime Minister the need to put something meaningful forward to demonstrate she can get everything over the line. On Wednesday all Conservative MPs need to think very carefully about what they do. If Leavers vote down the Prime Minister's motion, or if Remainers vote for the Cooper/Letwin motion, we could be heading in a direction which none of them want. What is that direction?

Towards a General Election.

Increasingly, I think the government could actually fall in the next few weeks. I think we're getting to a point where Theresa May doesn't know whether she is Arthur or Martha. The Cabinet does not know what the Prime Minister's strategy is. I'm not sure she does either. Ministers, even junior ministers, feel able to say what they like without fear of consequence. Some even think they can vote against their own government and not have to resign. 

If you think last week was eventful, just wait for the next three weeks.

No one can tell where we will be by March 15th, but it would not surprise me at all if by then the defection of 11 MPs will be but a distant memory as the country tries to come to terms which what has transpired. 

I hope I am being over-apocalyptic, and that Theresa May pulls several rabbits out of the hat. But from where I'm sitting now, they'll probably have Myxomatosis.

There are 34 days until we are due to leave the EU. Whatever the rights and wrongs, whatever the circumstances, if we don't leave the EU on 29th March democracy will have dimmed. Many people will see it as an establishment agenda to totally thwart Brexit. 'They were determined they'd never allow us to leave', will be the mantra, and you can see why. Because what will happen then is that the 'People's Vote' campaign will get a rocket boost. Economic uncertainty will increase exponentially because any "new deal" certainly won't be done by the autumn because between April and July there is no one to negotiate with because of the European elections and the fact that the new Commission won't be appointed until July. Juncker will also be replaced. They will argue that they can't do anything in July, August is a dead period for the EU anyway, so nothing will be able to be settled by September or October at the earliest. If there is to be any version of a second referendum, God forbid, I doubt whether that could be in place before the first quarter of next year at the earliest, and more likely the second quarter, given the complexities of the necessary enabling legislation and the Electoral Commission having a statutory 14 weeks to decide on the question. 

And in the meantime, Project Fear becomes Project Reality as company after company thinks, sod this for a game of soldiers and buggers off into the deep blue yonder. They will blame Brexit uncertainty and they'd be right to. But the people they really need to blame will be those who throughout this process, both inside politics and beyond who have tried to frustrate the democratic vote of June 23 2016. They would be right to blame a prime minister who has conducted a shambles of a negotiation and fllen under the influence of people whose only priorty was to appease the EU.

Well we are where we are. 

I have no clue how this is going to end up. My only personal consolation is that whatever happens, it's going to be a privilege to cover it on the airwaves and on this website. It could get bumpy.

The lyrics of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart sum up very well the predicament Theresa May finds herself in...

Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit lonely
And you're never coming 'round
Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the sound of my tears
Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit nervous
That the best of all the years have gone by
Turn around, every now and then I get a little bit terrified
And then I see the look in your eyes
Turn around bright eyes, every now and then I fall apart
Turn around bright eyes, every now and then I fall apart

And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right
'Cause we'll never be wrong together
Together we can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time (all of the time)
I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

And if you have never heard of this song, or Bonnie Tyler, feast your ears...